Few would argue that integrating patient-generated with EHR (electronic health record) data – and making sense of the resulting mix – is the Holy Grail of digital/mobile health. In fact, hospitals are already integrating digital-health data into EHRs using platforms like Apple HealthKit. For example, in October 2014,Ocshner Health System implemented HealthKit, and last April Cedars-Sinai Medical Center connected 80,000 patients to the platform.
But doing this at scale with more complex platforms – in particular those that seek to change behavior and have a meaningful health outcomes and cost reduction– is much more involved than adding a few biometric details into medical records, and will take more time. Aside from interpreting terabytes of data, integrating digital-health data involves exceedingly complex algorithms and predictive analytics, not to mention hyper-secure connectivity across disparate systems.
If we wait for full-on integration between digital-health data and EHRs, too many promising innovations will die on the vine; the opportunity cost for startups to demonstrate traction in other areas (for example, patient adoption, monetization, improved clinical outcomes and others) is simply way too high. Instead, for now, we can give providers tools that allow them to access digital-healthdata directly, ones that are very robust on the back end, yethave simple and flexible interfaces on the front end.
Cloud-Based Solutions Augment EHR Efforts
Despite years of evolution, many EHRs are still clunky, and clinicians still struggle to get the value they need from them. Perhaps the biggest dilemma is that most EHRs were designed to be at the center of web of enterprise data sources, with many being originally developed before digital health entered the picture.
Furthermore, as the number of data nodes generating health informationincreased, from laptops to mobile devices to wearables, it isincreasingly difficult to create an architecture that embraces all. Getting EHR vendors to create interoperable data models has been a herculean task; adding digitalhealth data integration to the list only adds to the problem.
Physicians shouldn’t spend their time worrying aboutEHR integration challenges when they deliver care. It’s our job to offer them access to fresh, pertinent patient data when and where it’s needed, regardless of where it originated. What’s more, the information should be delivered in a way that helps them make good decisions.